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PPC Ad Positioning - Does It Pay to Be #1?

Aug 17, 2007
Different positions for a search engine pay per click ad can elicit different quantities of clicks and different types of searchers. So how do you decide which position is best for you? While you'll most likely have to test several different positions for different keywords, here are some guidelines that might help get you started.

Positions 1-3
Positions 1-3 are typically the most clicked advertisements on a PPC page; however, studies show that most of these clicks do not elicit conversions. Therefore, these positions tend to cost more per click, get more clicks, but garner fewer conversions than lower positions on the page.

Typically, I recommend positions 1-3 for clients who are trying to brand their company or product for particular keywords. Studies show that searchers believe that the number one ad position is held by the industry brand leader.

Positions 4-10
Positions 4 and lower on the first page of search results tend to yield less clicks than the top three positions, but conversion rates for these lower positions tends to be higher than the top three positions. Positions 4-10 are ideal for companies focused on high conversion rates.

Positions Higher than 10
Positions higher than 10 receive far fewer impressions and clicks than positions 1-10, primarily because these ads are typically on the second page of search results and only 13% of search traffic proceeds past the first page of search results. For many companies, advertising beyond position 10 has little to no advantage because there are so few impressions in these ad positions.

However, ad positions higher than 10 can be a good choice for certain types of companies. I recently had a client in the payday loans industry. This industry is very competitive and crowded in PPC advertising, and the max cost per click for position 10 was very high. While positions 11-14 receive much less impressions and clicks than the ads on the first page of search results, there are still so many impressions on page two that this client was still able to receive many impressions and clicks - even conversions - enough to feel that page two was successful to meet their needs.

In Conclusion
These comments are meant as a starting point for PPC positioning. However I highly recommend that you test your ads in different positions to see what works best for your organization and your conversion goals. You might also try experimenting with exact, broad and phrase match options in the PPC programs to see which yields the best results with your keywords.
About the Author
Janet Driscoll Miller is the CEO of Search Mojo. With over 10 years of Internet marketing experience, Driscoll Miller is an expert in search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. She can be reached via Email at jmiller@search-mojo.com.
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